12th July 2019 — These bursaries are means tested and worth 100% of school fees and will also cover additional costs such as school bus transport and curriculum activities. With an extensive bus service, the School's catchment extends five counties across the Thames Valley.
This ambition to reach out to bright girls with potential and talent who would not otherwise be able to attend the School is a core focus. At St Helen's young women can be less conscious of perceived barriers that might put them off science and mathematics subjects. Enthusiastic STEM teachers, peers and alumnae acting as role models can have a huge, positive impact on girls, helping them to see that pursuing STEM can be for them. The School has a great strength in the high numbers of students who go on to study STEM subjects at university, therefore the opportunity to encourage a diverse group of girls to pursue STEM careers is there to be grasped.
St Helen's Sixth Form fosters an environment of independence, discovery and above all community. Current Sixth Form student Caitlin says that “St Helen’s is not at all an intimidating place to be, everyone is friendly and supports each other. No one should be worried about coming in from the outside.”
The power of the School’s bursary provision has been felt already by generations of students – Leying, a 2013 leaver and bursary recipient said: “There is no question that without a St Helen’s bursary I wouldn’t have been able to experience the wealth of opportunities that I did. For me, being in an environment where it was cool to be curious, where it wasn’t unusual to love learning and where it was OK to be unashamedly enthusiastic, has led me to where I am today.”
The four subject-specific bursaries are each named after a person with particular significance to the relevant subject: the Joanna de Saulles Bursary for Economics; the Mark Wynn Bursary for Chemistry; the David Ireland Bursary for Mathematics/Physics; and the Gabrielle Kingaby Bursary for Computer Science. St Helen’s is particularly excited to name the Computer Science Bursary in honour of an Old Girl. Gabrielle Kingaby attended St Helen and St Katharine at the start of World War II, later joining the WRNS and then working as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. Gabrielle, now 94 and still sprightly and sharp, visited St Helen’s in July: she spoke to students who were fascinated to hear stories of her life, which included deciphering Enigma machine encrypted messages at Bletchley and having to keep her work secret for decades even from her husband and mother. Gabrielle’s love of life and enthusiasm for learning shone through and she is delighted that the new bursary is named in recognition of pioneering female computer scientists.
Headmistress Mrs Rebecca Dougall believes that the bursaries provision remains fundamental to St Helen’s ethos: “I am keenly aware that there are young women whose lives would be transformed by calling St Helen and St Katharine their school and could do so if fees were no longer a factor. Throughout the history of our School, students have been able to come to St Helen’s because their families received assistance towards the fees, and this has defined the School’s character. Our mission is to continue creating these possibilities for aspirational and gifted young women, whose unique talents can be unlocked by becoming part of the St Helen’s family.”